The opinion of the court was delivered by: Munson, Senior District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs' instant action, filed pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and 1988, alleges Defendants used excessive force and falsely arrested
plaintiffs in violation of their rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth,
Eight and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. They
seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees and
costs. Currently before the court are defendants' motions for summary
judgment, which plaintiffs oppose. After careful consideration, and for
the reasons that follow, the court grants defendants' motions and
dismisses plaintiffs' complaint.
At about 9:50 p.m. on September 12, 1994, several Oneida County
Sheriff's Department ("OCSD") deputies — Warcup, Willson, Dodge and
Bauer — arrived at the home of Albert Barnes in Lee, New York to
investigate an armed robbery and shooting that had taken place there
earlier that evening. Barnes told the deputies that his house had been
entered by two males, one black the other white. Both were about six feet
tall and weighed between 170 and 180 pounds. Barnes informed the police
that the black male had shot him in the leg during an attempted robbery.
Deputy Warcup radioed the details of the crime and the suspects'
descriptions to the OCSD's dispatcher, as well as to other OCSD patrols
in the area.
Plaintiffs Lionel Goodman and Joseph Mendoza, meanwhile, were driving
along in a flatbed pickup truck through Lee. Goodman is black; Mendoza is
white. Both wore baseball caps that evening.
At 10:20 p.m., the OCSD notified Deputy Chrysler to report with his K-9
to the Barnes' residence. Within a half hour, Chrysler was heading in his
own vehicle on Route 69 from Rome toward Lee. While en route, he received
a broadcast that two male suspects, one black and one white, traveling in
a pickup truck with a flatbed, were heading toward Route 69 on the Lee
Valley Road. The deputy continued along Route 69 until he saw the
suspects' vehicle — plaintiffs' truck — pass him heading in
the opposite direction. He then turned his vehicle and gave chase.
Roughly two miles later, he caught up with the truck and called the
OCSD's dispatcher, Deputy Schrader. Chrysler advised that he was
following a flatbed pickup truck, with two males wearing baseball caps,
approaching Rome, New York. Schrader directed other patrols to this
Deputy Mary Willson had left the crime scene and was on her way to St.
Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica, New York, to interview the crime victim
further. En route, she, too, monitored the dispatcher's communication
concerning the suspects' truck. She notified the dispatcher of her
location and was instructed to assist Deputy Chrysler. At about this
time, she saw both vehicles — the suspects' and Chrysler's —
pass her going in the opposite direction, so she made a quick 180 degree
turn, approached plaintiffs' vehicle, and activated her patrol car's
At approximately 10:30 p.m., the Rome Police Department ("RPD")
received a teletype from the OCSD that informed them of the armed robbery
and shooting in nearby Lee. It described the two suspects as black male
and a white male wearing baseball hats and driving a flatbed pickup
truck. RPD Officer Jay DiMaggio, who received the teletype, distributed
it by telephone to other RPD officers, including defendant Dominick
About twenty-five minutes later, RPD Officer Scott Hall heard a radio
transmission from the OCSD stating that a vehicle believed to be involved
in the Lee armed robbery was proceeding east on Erie Boulevard in Rome,
coming from the direction of the Town of Lee. Hall drove to Erie
Boulevard and observed plaintiffs' flatbed pickup truck traveling the
street, followed by a small dark colored vehicle and an OCSD vehicle with
its emergency lights flashing. Officer Hall activated his emergency
lights and likewise gave chase.
When the plaintiffs' truck pulled into a parking lot, Willson pulled
along its driver's side. She exited her patrol car, removed her service
pistol, and pointed it in the direction of plaintiffs' vehicle.
Corigliano had heard a radio transmission that the OCSD had stopped two
suspects at a parking lot at the intersection of Erie Boulevard and South
Madison Street, so he drove his police vehicle to that site. The several
spotlights from the OCSD's patrol cars illuminated the truck and enabled
Corigliano to see that its two occupants were a black male and a white
male each wearing a baseball cap. Thus, while Willson aimed her sidearm
at plaintiffs' truck, Corigliano addressed plaintiffs over his patrol
car's public address system. With the OCSD's consent, he commanded
plaintiffs to step out of the pickup truck with their hands on their heads
and to lie on the ground. Plaintiffs obeyed these commands and exited
their vehicle. Willson covered Bauer as he approached the vehicle's
driver's side and handcuffed Goodman; Mendoza was handcuffed on the
opposite side of the vehicle.
In addition to Deputy Willson, several other members of the OCSD
arrived at the scene, namely deputies Ruhm, Dodge, Chrysler and Bauer.*fn3
Following plaintiffs' compliance with Corigliano's orders, Ruhm searched
the interior of the passenger side of the vehicle, while Dodge searched
the interior of the driver's side of the truck. Ruhm attempted to search
a locked tool box behind the vehicle's cab, but it was locked. Plaintiff
Goodman told him where the tool box key was located; and once the box ...